Five by 8 – 4/20/10: How much is that kidney in the window?

1) How much would you charge for your kidney? You only need one, right? That baby’s just sitting there like a bad investment, but if you could sell it to someone who needed it, how much would you charge? It’s illegal to sell organs, but the UK is thinking of changing that as a way to increase the number of donated organs. “We need to think about the morality of pressing people to donate their bodily material,” said a medical professor who’s on a commission studying ideas on the subject. “Offering payment or other incentives may encourage people to take risks or go against their beliefs in a way they could not have otherwise done,” she said.

2) In Brooklyn, the most important person in a hardware store, is a mentally-impaired man who’s not much of an interview. But for all of our book smarts, nothing in the world remains a bigger mystery than the thing on the top of our head.This is Autism Awareness Week. So here’s another story. In Boston, they’ve figured out that the iPhone, and an application to help people communicate with autistic people, is far and away better than any other technology to deliver services to people. All it takes is a committed city, the Boston Globe says.

3) Dorothy Height has died. “People have said we had separation because of prejudice. History will show we had prejudice because of separation,” she said.

In St. Paul, Katie McWatt has died. She paved the way for African Americans to run for office here.

Where is the next generation of civil rights activists?

4) We shall see today whether the latest tuition and fee increase for MnSCU gets as much attention as the imposition of a $45 baggage fee on an airline nobody’s ever heard of. MnSCU released its proposed budget on Monday. It’s a supply-and-demand equation. On many MnSCU campuses, workers and veterans are returning for retraining. The classrooms are full. What’s the alternative? A college education, we’ve been told for a generation, is the difference between success and failure. So tuition goes up and students graduate with a crushing load of debt, confident that at some point, they’ll make enough money to pay off the debt.

Economics says at some point, it might not be worth it. Here’s the question: Where is that point?

Meanwhile, back in the land of K-12, St. Paul is likely to close Arlington High School and will have another empty building on its hands. What happens to old schools? Not much, usually. Schools sometimes end up as senior housing, occasionally they’re purchased by a business of some sort, but more often than not, they stand empty.

Take Redwood Falls Renville, for example. The school board there is trying to unload its building in Sacred Heart. They’ve listed it on eBay, says the Redwood Gazette. (H/t: Bob Ingrassia)

5) There have been dozens — let’s face it, way too many — of gushing articles about Target Field since it opened last week. But they’ve been written by locals. We’re in Minnesota. What we really want to know is what others think about us. The Hardball Times complies today with a lengthy piece on the new Twins stadium. The advice: Buy outfield seats over infield seats in the upper deck.

While Metrodome veterans surely recoil with horror at the prospect of sitting beyond the outfield walls, I promise this is a new experience entirely. For a few bucks less than upper deck infield seats, outfield-dwelling patrons feel right on top of the action. For my money, the best budget seats in the park are in the Overlook section, an aptly named seating box which sits on a platform jutting out over right field. It’s a small section, which means quick access to the concourses. The Overlook is also right inside Gate 34, making for a quick escape to the nightlife scene, win or lose.

But the entertainment is in the minor leagues today. Who wouldn’t feel bad catching him/herself laughing at the site of this obvious tragedy last week in Reno?


Pew Research survey finds that most Americans distrust the federal government, and that only 1 in 5 trusts Washington most of the time. Do you trust the government?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Senate Republicans say they will oppose most new regulations intended to prevent a financial meltdown. They charge Democrats are playing politics with a civil suit against Goldman Sachs. Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued the Wall Street firm, saying it defrauded investors by misleading them on toxic assets. Goldman Sachs says the suit is baseless.

Second hour: In her latest book, Terry Tempest Williams writes of the old mosaics in Ravenna, Italy. The exquisite art made from tiles is just one of the man-made and natural wonders that inspires a meditation on the power of beauty. She wrote the book after reflecting on how bitter her writing and speaking became after Bush administration’s reaction to 9-11.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Four DFL candidates for governor: Paul Thissen, John Marty, Matt Entenza and Tom Rukavina.

Second hour: Pedro Noguera, speaking recently at Macalester College. He’s the author of “Unfinished Business: Closing the Racial Achievement Gap in Our Schools.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A California SWAT sergeant sends suggestive texts to his wife and his mistress on the pager provided by the police department. When the department read them, he sued. Now, the text privacy case goes to the Supreme Court — and could affect employee privacy rights everywhere.

Second hour: Ever since the earthquake that devastated Haiti, officials have had one thing on their mind: the onset of the rainy season. The heavy rains have begun, and many living in temporary shelters fear being washed away.

  • matt

    As the father of three young boys with Alports disease that will eventually lead to kidney failure which = lifelong dialysis or kidney transplant I can say I would happily give mine away. I can also say that I would pay a high price to obtain matching kidneys for my children.

    Current healh regulations (all late stage renal disease is covered by medicare regardless of age) require kidney function to be almost gone before a transplant can occur because of the scarcity of kidneys. Dialysis is one of the biggest money drains in our medical economy – the cost of one year of dialysis would easily offset a sizable payment to a willing donor.

    But our paternal government knows what is best for all of us…

  • boB from WA

    Re schools: There is a company out here in the Pacific Northwest that has rehabilitated one school in Portland. It is called McMenamins Kennedy School. What this company has done is taken an old school and converted into a combination hotel, theater, and restaurants. It is a alternative way to lodge for the night away from the usual franchised fare found along the interstates.

  • jake

    Just an FYI on the Sacred Heart School mentioned in story #4. That school was a part of the Renville County West School District, based out of Renville, MN – not the Redwood Valley District out of Redwood Falls.


  • Dan

    I guess you didn’t read that Hardball Times story close enough:

    “While I haven’t been to several of the new, downtown ballparks, I can’t imagine any are situated better than Target Field. I live a shade over a mile southeast of the stadium, and my commute required a single bus and took all of eight minutes.”

    Sounds like a local impression to me.

  • Joey

    FYI: Washington Middle School is moving into the building that currently houses Arlington. I don’t know if anything ends up empty.

  • Michael Fraase

    I was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure) in 2000; as a result I’ve been on dialysis for 10 years.

    Matt, I suggest you do a little research.

    Medicare is *available* to all end-stage renal disease patients after the first day of the fourth month of dialysis (private insurance, if available, pays first for 30 months) but it’s not mandatory. I’ve carried private insurance the entire time I’ve been on dialysis.

    Medicare coverage for dialysis was instituted in 1976 because prior to that year, kidney failure patients were subject to real, live death panels at hospitals that determined who would be granted dialysis and who would be sent home with a fist-full of morphine to die. Still, the mortality rate for dialysis patients in the US is between 20%-25%. And yeah, it’s expensive: Up to US$70,000 per year per patient. But that’s better than the alternative. I’m thankful every day for the government’s empathy and foresight.

    As soon as your kids reach end-stage they’re eligible for the cadaver transplant waiting list. If there’s a possibility of a living donor (in your case probably through a paired-organ donation), the waiting list can be avoided.

    The UK has this all wrong. The answer to organ scarcity isn’t an organ market or paying donors. Rather, the answer is to reverse the organ donor default option on all driver’s licenses: Instead of having to opt-in to be an organ donor, individuals would have to opt-out from being a donor.

  • Kassie

    There is a documentary, which I saw on Snag Films, about selling kidneys in Iran. The State runs the program and has a set price for kidneys, but then the family can add more to it. It is horrible. Poor people selling their kidneys for a couple thousand dollars. Poor people trying to get cut rate deals on kidneys for their loved ones. Yuck.

    And I wonder, if you have three kids with kidney disease and only the money for one kidney, which kid do you love most? That’s an impossible decision for most parents and should never be needed to be made.

    I agree with the above poster about organ donation. It should be an opt out program. But really, I think that everyone should be required to be donors unless they have a religious objection. If they are not donors, they can never receive a donation themselves. Simple.